We stayed at many hostels in the Southwest, of varying levels of accommodation. I want to share with you the best of our travels.
The Aille River Hostel in Doolin in County Clare was a stand out. It is supremely located along a riverbank, with the option to camp out bank the grassy yard, or reserve a dorm room or private room inside. The biggest perks here are the free internet access (there is one desktop available) and free laundry (free wash, dryer is 1 euro). This hostel is probably only place in Ireland where travelers can do their laundry for free.
The best facilities I found were at Kilfenora Hostel in Kilfenora, County Clare. A brand new hostel, the kitchen is equipped with a top of the line stove, as well as any pot or pan you can possibly desire. The washer and dryer are brand new. And the entertainment room has a flat screen TV and two desktops for internet access.
The loveliest setting, inside and out, I found to be the Greenwood Hostel in Templenoe, County Kerry. Located in a gently restored farmhouse, the rooms are all wood, some huge skylights, each tastefully decorated, and with a cozy beds. The bathroom has tons of natural light, a huge plant, and lots of wood. The dining area is also spacious and wooden, with a unique collection of teapots. The living room area has a fireplace and piano for your pleasure. The farmhouse is surrounded by gardens and with a view of the water.
The best location for a hostel was the Kinlay House Hostel in Cork City, Country Cork. Located on a hill in the Shandon area of the city, it has a wonderful view and is a perfect hub for exploring any area of the city.
The most fun hostel to stay at, in terms of social environment, was the Russagh Mill Hostel, in Skibbereen, County Cork. Run by rock-climbers, it attracts a cool crowd of young travelers who have adventurous spirits. There is always something happening in the evenings - a huge dinner, a booze/dessert party, good music and conversation. I like the spirit of this place.
That's it. The best of the Southwest. I encourage you to stay at these places and to judge for yourself.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007